Cover of "The Gem People," a young adult novel by WSU professor Logan Mikel. The book's publishing and marketing were funded by internet donations over two days (Source: Logan Mikel)
Cover of “The Gem People,” a young adult novel by WSU professor Logan Mickel. The book’s publishing and marketing were funded by internet donations over two days. (Source: Logan Mickel)

Weber State University professor Logan Mickel started a Kickstarter project last week, hoping to raise money for a book about body image. Mickel anticipated to raise $4,000 in a few months. Instead, it took only a few days.

The inspiration for such a story came when thinking about his daughters and how their self-perceptions will change as they get older, and not always for the better. Mickel started a Kickstarter account to raise funds for marketing and has received a very positive response.

Mickel said that the story is starting to go viral and is resonating with people. The project was launched on Kickstarter last Tuesday with the goal of raising $4,000 within 30 days. Instead, the project hit $4,000 in two days, and has only gained more support since then.

When talking about the response from the community, Mickel didn’t anticipate for everything to happen so fast.

“I hoped for it,” said Mickel, “but I didn’t let myself hope for it because I didn’t want to be disappointed.”

Mickel talked about boys in school and how emphasis on looks is taught early on.

“Boys rank girls, and it won’t happen in first grade, but I know it’s coming. And my other two girls will follow her,” he said.

As a father, Mickel was frustrated knowing as his girls get older, they’ll begin to feel the pressures of society, which can cause their self worth to plummet.

“I realized they’re going to start changing and thinking things like ‘I’m not thin enough’ or ‘My body shape isn’t right,’ ” he explained. “That’s when I thought that this needs to be explored in a book.”

Mickel mentioned that society will tell them their worth as a person lies in the the way they look rather than who they are.

Body image is an issue that many face and it is something that kids learn from adults. It can be beneficial to start teaching kids early on that looks don’t have to be everything.

“This isn’t just created in a vacuum,” Mickel said. “Kids see how we act as adults and they kind of absorb it.”

From an early age, kids are always given compliments about their looks, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can really help kids when you address other aspects of their personality.

Mickel said he and his wife tell their girls that they’re smart or that they’re nice.

“If you want to bring up looks that’s fine,” he said, “but let’s address the other realms of human existence, especially intelligence.”

Mickel’s novel follows 14-year-old Cole Davenport who has spent his life mining in tunnels. He soon discovers eight people made of jewels sleeping inside a mountain.

Left by an ancient powerful race known as the Engineers, Cole soon learns the gem people have a special purpose. Throughout the journey Cole encounters many enemies, and even has to battle himself.

Mickel chose the fantasy genre because it’s easy to get a message such as this across in such a setting.

“It’s so much easier,” he said. “I want to explore the concept and fantasy lends itself, and you get to have more fun with it.”

Mickel emphasized his belief that books shouldn’t be preachy. On the other hand, he said good stories explore important themes.

The project is nearly complete and will be ready in January or February. Mickel is offering rewards through Kickstarter for backers of the project, including signed copies of the book, original artwork and other prizes.

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